Activists gain standing to sue to enforce Animal Welfare Act

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, October 1998:

WASHINGTON, D.C.––Seven of
the 11 judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals for
the D.C. Circuit agreed on September 1 that
New York activist Marc Jurnove has standing
to sue the USDA seeking enforcement of the
Animal Welfare Act against the Long Island
Game Farm and Zoological Park.
“This is a landmark decision for anyone
concerned about promoting humane treatment
for animals,” said Animal Legal Defense
Fund staff attorney Valerie Stanley, who had
pursued the standing issue since 1988. “When
federal agencies fail to protect animals, citizens
may now go to court to seek a legal remedy.”

The Court of Appeals ruling means
appellate-level precedent for the first time
favors the right of individuals and humane
groups to ensure that the USDA Animal and
Plant Health Inspection Service implements the
AWA as Congress intended. The AWA governs
the treatment of animals in exhibition facilities
and research.
The full Court of Appeals ruling can
only be reversed by the Supreme Court or an
act of Congress. It upholds an October 1996
ruling by the late Judge Charles Richey of the
U.S. District Court for Washington D.C., who
both in 1991 and in the 1996 case favored
activist standing. Both Richey rulings were
later reversed by three-judge panels from the
Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.
The Jurnove opinion, written by
Judge Patricia Wald, is indexed as Animal
Legal Defense Fund v. Glickman, #97-5009b.
It was argued before the court by Katherine
Meyer of the D.C. firm Meyer & Glitzenstein.
It proceeds from the alleged failure of the
USDA to adopt adequate enforcement regulations
implementing 1985 amendments to the
AWA, which require that primates must be
kept in facilities conducive to their psychological
The Court of Appeals did not rule on
the merits of the case, which concerns conditions
at a so-called roadside zoo, not accredited
by the American Zoo Association, operating in
Manorville, New York.
The court found that “Mr. Jurnove’s
allegations solidly establish injury in fact,” a
prerequisite for legal standing, quoting his affidavit,
“because of his familiarity with and love
of exotic animals,” with a demonstrated “aesthetic
interest in observing animals living under
humane conditions.”
Further, the court held, “The AWA
anticipated the continued monitoring of concerned
animal lovers to ensure that the purposes
of the Act were honored. Mr. Jurnove, a regular
viewer of animal exhibitions regulated under
the AWA, clearly falls within the zone of interests
the state protects. His interests are among
those that Congress sought to benefit.”
Anticipating lawsuits against laboratory
conditions, the National Association for
Biomedical Research filed a brief backing the
USDA position that Jurnove had no standing.

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